The Arctic Tracker project is not dead (yet). The idea is to develop a tracker device with traits like these:
- It is modular, it can be assembled mainly from existing modules. Should be fairly easy to assemble.
- It has plenty of computing room and is open source. It can be a platform for hacking and innovation.
- In addition to VHF radio using APRS protocol, it can communicate over the internet.
- It can store tracking data for later uploading using internet.
- It is affordable.
A scenario we would like to explore is that the tracker stores a position log with a lot higher resolution than it can transmit over an APRS channel. This log could be automatically uploaded to a server when the tracker is moving within a WIFI zone and connecting to the internet. A WIFI connection could also be used for easy configuration or the device could be used as an APRS IGATE. A WIFI zone could even be provided by a smartphone which can be an easy way to access the device from a smartphone app.
We are designing a prototype, or more correctly, a lab model to use for testing and further development. In addition to the VHF radio module we plan to use two microcontroller modules:
- A Teensy 3.2 as a the main controlling unit. It handles GPS data and APRS signalling, with a RTOS (ChibiOS/RT) and custom firmware written in C (partly based on earlier work on Polaric Tracker). See earlier posts on this.
- A ESP-8266 WIFI module with a 32 bit MCU (ESP-12). It is connected to the main (Teensy) MCU over a serial line. It is used to connect to the internet. It may also be used for storage since it has 4 MB flash memory and (possibly) a simple file system.
A PCB board is now in production, where the the most important parts can be mounted. It is just a first shot. It is not meant to be complete or free of mistakes. There will be a buzzer, 3 leds (one RGB led), antenna connector, a connector for battery, GPS, testing, etc.